PHILADELPHIA—Today, City Councilmember Helen Gym (At-Large), who has fought to close the digital divide and increase internet speeds for students reliant on the internet for virtual learning, released the following statement about Comcast’s decision to double the speed of Internet Essentials:
“For months, students and media justice organizations in collaboration with city leaders across the country have called for Comcast to address digital redlining, which denies Black and Brown and low-income communities equitable access to the internet. Today’s announcement by Comcast is thanks to them.
“Last August, I joined Philadelphia educators, youth and community organizations to demand faster internet speeds and an opening up of residential hotspots in vulnerable neighborhoods. Students spoke at that rally of being unable to participate in classes when multiple siblings were online because their internet speed was not fast enough. They spoke of the challenges of virtual learning when they struggled to access basic utilities. Weeks later, I helped anchor a national press conference with Councilmembers from Baltimore, Detroit, and Oakland among other cities.
“I am glad that Comcast has finally responded to community demands, but a year into the pandemic and with a generation of children having their education rely on internet access, it’s clear this is just the start. Doubling the speeds on Internet Essentials is an important step but it must be the first of many. Poverty must never be a barrier to learning. We will continue to push Comcast to ensure that Internet Essentials is as reliable and fast as any commercial internet service and to end barriers to accessing the internet in every neighborhood in Philadelphia.”